Art History

The Babies In Medieval Art Look Old On Purpose

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Medieval art often shows a baby. But the baby in those paintings often resemble an old man more than the cute, chubby infant we expect to see. This is because these babies represent Jesus. Philosophers believe that Jesus was "born perfectly formed and unchanged." This means that he was born a man, and was not a baby that grows into an child and teen before becoming an adult. Moreover, the depiction of babies in Medieval art was influenced by the idea of the homunculus, which is Latin for "little man." So those babies may not have been babies at all, but actually tiny men.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Babies in Medieval art don't look like babies because they represent Jesus. 00:33

  2. The depiction of babies in Medieval art was influenced by the idea of the homunculus, which is Latin for "little man." 00:59

  3. Greek and Roman art was all about idealized form, not Medieval abstraction. 01:46

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